Study Skills for ELLS
by Judie Haynes
English language learners may need help in learning how to study for content area tests. Here are some helpful techniques that you can teach them.
ESL professionals realize that the best way to assess English language learners (ELLs) is to build assessment into instructional activities. We prefer to scaffold assessment in order to provide support for our students. However, ELLs must learn to survive in the real world of the content area class. It is useful, therefore, to teach second language learners study skills.
Study Skills for ELLS
Here are some studying techniques to show students when they are preparing for tests.
o Teach students to study actively. They are more likely to remember material if it is written down or if they say it out loud than if it is only read or heard.
o Make sure your students comprehend the material they are studying. If they understand the material, they will be able to remember it better.
o Assess prior knowledge so that you can connect new material to something your students already know. Teach students to make this connection themselves. You want to foster independent learners.
o Have students create their own examples when trying to understand and remember a general concept. This not only helps students remember the concept better, but also helps them check their own understanding.
o Teach students to visualize what they're trying to learn. Have them create a mental image or organize information on a graphic organizer.
o Show students how to pick out the most important concepts. They will not be able to memorize everything in a social studies unit, for example. ELLS need to learn how to concentrate on the main ideas. They need to learn to pay attention to the information the teacher indicates is important. This is particularly difficult for English language learners. Demonstrate to them how their teachers signal important information. It could be written on the board, repeated many times or prefaced with words such as "This is important."
o Set reasonable goals for the material your English language learners should be responsible for. Ask content area teachers if you can adapt the test to fairly assess what your students should be able to do. There is no point in their memorizing a list of spelling words, for example, if they do not understand what the words mean.
How to memorize material effectively

ELLS need to learn to space study sessions so that they are not overwhelmed by the language demands and the content material to be mastered at the same time. They will be more apt to remember material if it is studied over several days (or weeks) rather than in a single session. Here are some "tricks" to help memorization.
o Categories: Have students learn how to group items into categories in order to memorize them. If they have a long list of things to memorize, show them how to group similar items together.
o Key words: To learn this list of reasons why an event in history occurred, show students how to pick out a key word for each reason and then learn just the key words.
o Item numbers: Have students learn how many items are on a list. When memorizing the list, have them also learn how many items should be on it.